China might be contemplating a "takeover" of the Moon as part of its military space program, NASA's administrator Bill Nelson has told newspaper Bild.
In an interview, Nelson claimed that the United States is now involved in a new race to space, with China this time. He emphasized that in 2035, Beijing might finish construction of its own Moon station and start experiments a year later.
Nelson claimed that we must be very concerned about China landing on the Moon and saying that it now belongs to the Peoples' Republic and everyone else should stay out, RT reported.
Claiming that China's space program is a "military" space program, Nelson explained that the competition for the south pole of the moon is especially intense: potential water deposits there could be used in the future for rocket-fuel production.
When asked by Bild what military purposes could China be pursuing in space, Nelson claimed that Chinese astronauts are busy learning how to destroy other countries' satellites.
Despite Beijing's assurances that its ambitious space program has purely peaceful purposes, Nelson has long been a tough critic of China's policy in space, RT reported.
In April, he accused Chinese officials of refusing to work with the US on its operations and of concealing important data. Earlier, however, he acknowledged that NASA abides by a 2011 law that prohibits the agency from engaging in direct collaboration with the Chinese government or any China-affiliated organizations without explicit approval from Congress and federal law enforcement authorities.
Chinese officials have pointed to that ban, called the Wolf Amendment, as "unfortunate" and an impediment to direct cooperation with NASA.